Located at what is roughly the mid-point of the northern Welsh coastline, under the watchful eye of a moody Conwy Mountain, is the picturesque Conwy Golf Club.
The Morfa links is one of Wales’s most esteemed golf courses, and in concert with the scenery it makes for a truly memorable golfing experience. There’s the eponymous Conwy Mountain, the distant Great Orme at Llandudno, the sandy coastline, and the attractive seaside town of Deganwy, all combining to create a golfing setting that must rank as one of the most privileged in the British Isles.
It was 1875 when members from Royal Liverpool Golf Club saw the potential of the Morfa land, creating a 12 hole course that initiated the formation of Conwy Golf Club in 1890. The full 18 holes were completed five years later, and the course design has since been influenced by Jack Harris and Harvey Penick.
The connection between Conwy and Royal Liverpool was emphasised again in 2006, when Conwy hosted Final Qualifying for The Open Championship played at Hoylake. And Conwy enjoys genuine championship status in its own right, too, having hosted a collection of leading amateur, Ladies European Tour, and European Seniors Tour events over recent years.
The front nine at Conwy Barring is relatively flat and, with the exception of a few patches of gorse, offers plenty of width. There are natural crests and humps that feature on holes close to the beach, but predominantly there is a feeling of openness as you ease into the round. Early holes on the back nine hint at prickly dangers to come, and sure enough the swathes of gorse that line the closing fairways provide a particularly tough stretch to finish.
Holes 7 & 9
Running beside the shoreline, the long straight par four seventh hole is both testing and pleasing on the eye. The beach isn’t really in play but it is certainly in view. The perfect tee shot will thread between three fairway bunkers, leaving an approach to a green set delightfully within a punchbowl.
Played in the same direction, the par five ninth is another impressive hole, particularly the second shot (or possibly the third, depending on your length from the tee), towards a raised green hidden behind a hefty knoll.
Holes 12 -13
The twelfth is a par five that tests your ability to feed a drive between some well positioned fairway bunkers before presenting further challenges ahead at the green that is concealed from view by sharp drop in elevation. Both here, and in particular at the par three thirteenth that follows, the backdrop of Conwy Mountain provides a picture postcard setting that’s enough to put a smile on your face, no matter how you may be playing.
Holes 15 – 18
The closing holes at Conwy put the squeeze on your game and separate a good round from an average one. There’s a profusion of gorse that hems in the fairways en route back to the clubhouse, demanding absolute accuracy. This is most recognisable on the par four sixteenth and seventeen holes that run parallel to one another. Before that, the par three fifteenth is a charming short hole where humps and hollows surrounding the green present more challenges than the nearby bushes.
One of Conwy’s greatest assets, and no doubt one of its most endearing features to visitors, is its playability. This is a very good golf course that is suitable for every age and ability, succeeding in maintaining its championship billing without beating up and demoralising the mere mortal, and that is a rare combination to find. When combined with the stunning variety of landscapes on view, it’s no wonder that Conwy Golf Club is one of the brightest jewels in Welsh golf.
The club also offers some superb packages in conjunction with Nefyn & District GC and Royal St. David’s Golf Club, two other superb Welsh coastal courses enjoying similarly lofty reputations. These packages promise especially good value, and I was really struck by how perfect a spot this would be for a golfing holiday somewhere a little different. As I left this dramatic corner of North Wales, I was just sorry I didn’t have more time to spend there on this occasion.